Book Bits: 22 January 2022

Transparent Investing: How to Play the Stock Market without Getting Played
Patrick Geddes
Interview with author via CNBC
“Learning about how your brain is wired and how your emotions drive your investing can actually be even more important than analysis,” Geddes explains.
Sometimes, these emotions get the best of us. He calls this concept of making emotion-based investment decisions the “illusion of control.”
“As investors, we imagine a kind of control over outcomes that doesn’t match the unwelcome reality that stocks behave pretty randomly,” says Geddes, who is the co-founder of investment management firm Aperio Group and former research director at Morningstar.

The Super Age: Decoding Our Demographic Destiny
Bradley Schurman
Summary via publisher (Harper Business)
Societies all over the world are getting older, the result of the fact that we are living longer and having fewer children. At some point in the near future, much of the developed world will have at least twenty percent of their national populations over the age of sixty-five. Bradley Schurman calls this the Super Age. Today, Italy, Japan, and Germany have already reached the Super Age, and another ten countries will have gone over the tipping point in 2021. Thirty-five countries will be part of this club by the end of the decade. This seismic shift in the world population can portend a period of tremendous growth—or leave swaths of us behind.

Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World
Peter S. Goodman
Review via Datebook
Peter S. Goodman’s “Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World” is a meticulously researched, clearly reported and truly infuriating history of the way the top 1% of the world has systematically arranged the way societies operate in order to become even richer, all to the detriment of the rest of us.
Davos Man — a term coined in 2004 by political scientist Samuel Huntington — refers to those who attend the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos, a small town in the Swiss Alps. However, as Goodman writes, the term is now used to describe those who “occupy the stratosphere of the globe-trotting class, the billionaires — predominantly white and male — who wield unsurpassed influence over the political realm while promoting a notion that has captured decisive force across major economies: when the rules are organized around greater prosperity for those who already enjoy most of it, everyone’s a winner.”

How We Can Win: Race, History and Changing the Money Game That’s Rigged
Kimberly Jones
Review via Black Enterprise
In her new book, Jones calls for Reconstruction 2.0: a multilayered plan to reclaim economic and social restitutions — restitutions that were promised with emancipation but were blocked again and again and again for generations. In addition to her cogent argument regarding how hundreds of years of economic hardship have stymied Black Americans, which news anchor Joy Reid of MSNBC says is “the most coherent, clear and current case for younger people to understand reparations.” Jones also presents strategies for dismantling a system that remains inequitable.

Platform Socialism: How to Reclaim our Digital Future from Big Tech
James Muldoon
Essay by author via Jacobin
In my book Platform Socialism: How to Reclaim Our Digital Future From Big Tech, I sketch an ecosystem of alternative ownership models in which diverse communities from the local to the global can own and operate digital tools. Key to such a system is understanding how we can create a variety of forms of social ownership that provide communities with more autonomy but aren’t based on creating artificial scarcity and new markets of winners and losers.

Beyond Money: A Postcapitalist Strategy
Anitra Nelson
Summary via publisher (Pluto Press)
What would a world without money look like? This book is a lively thought experiment that deepens our understanding of how money is the driver of political power, environmental destruction and social inequality today, arguing that it has to be abolished rather than repurposed to achieve a postcapitalist future. Grounded in historical debates about money, Anitra Nelson draws on a spectrum of political and economic thought and activism, including feminism, ecoanarchism, degrowth, permaculture, autonomism, Marxism and ecosocialism. Looking to Indigenous rights activism and the defence of commons, an international network of activists engaged in a fight for a money-free society emerges. Beyond Money shows that, by organising around post-money versions of the future, activists have a hope of creating a world that embodies their radical values and visions.

The Invention of Power: Popes, Kings, and the Birth of the West
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs Books)
Western exceptionalism—the idea that European civilizations are freer, wealthier, and less violent—is a widespread and powerful political idea. It has been a source of peace and prosperity in some societies, and of ethnic cleansing and havoc in others. Yet in The Invention of Power, BruceBueno de Mesquita draws on his expertise in political maneuvering, deal-making, and game theory to present a revolutionary new theory of Western exceptionalism: that a single, rarely discussed event in the twelfth century changed the course of European and world history. By creating a compromise between churches and nation-states that, in effect, traded money for power and power for money, the 1122 Concordat of Worms incentivized economic growth, facilitated secularization, and improved the lot of the citizenry, all of which set European countries on a course for prosperity. In the centuries since, countries that have had a similar dynamic of competition between church and state have been consistently better off than those that have not.

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